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Isacc Smith Prater Deputy U.S. Marshal
Looking for information on I.S.Prater he served as a Deputy U.S. MARSHAL under Chris Masden,Bill Tilghman and i belive Heck Ramsey
Posts: 2 | Location: batavia,oh usa | Registered: Thu January 01 2004Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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I believe Heck Ramsey was a television character that was based on Heck Thomas.
Posts: 373 | Location: Indian and Oklahoma Territories | Registered: Wed February 04 2004Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Glenn Shirley mentions a "J. S. Prather" as a posseman for Heck and Chris in "Heck Thomas, Frontier Marshal."
Posts: 512 | Location: Cortez, Colorado | Registered: Fri December 12 2003Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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you are right i should have heck thomas instead of ramsey. i do know that issac was part of posse looking for daltons and that a lot of people had his name wrong. he was born issac smith prater son of jilson payne prater and cynthia ann adams.
Posts: 2 | Location: batavia,oh usa | Registered: Thu January 01 2004Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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DUSM Isaac Smith Prater is mentioned several times in backissues of the Oklahombres Journals:

Vol. 4 No. 4 pages 7 & 14; Vol. 7 No. 2 pages l, 9-11; Vol. 7 No. 3 page 23; Vol. 8 No. 1 page 9; Vol. 8 No. 2 page 15; Vol. 8 No. 3 page 32; Vol. 8 No. 4 page 40; Vol. 9 No. 1 pages 8 & 30; Vol. 10 No. 4 page 9.
Posts: 195 | Registered: Mon December 15 2003Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Originally posted by hilbily:
Looking for information on I.S.Prater he served as a Deputy U.S. MARSHAL under Chris Masden,Bill Tilghman and i belive Heck Ramsey

This article appeared in the Winter 1996 issue of the Oklahombres Journal:

Deputy U.S. Marshal Issac Prater
by Nancy Samuelson

A peace officer of Oklahoma Territory, Issac Pater served as a deputy U.S. marshal during one of the busiest time periods for the marhsals service in Oklahoma. Although he is relatively unknown, Prater brought down the notorious outlaw Tulsa Jack. His law enforcement career is a noteworthy one.

Issac S. Prater must have come to the Oklahoma Territory during the opening and land run in 1889 or very shortly thereafter. He is listed on the 1890 Territory census in Canadian County as Prater, Isaac S. age 27, born in Kentucky and in the Territory 13 months. His wife Mollie was age 17, born in Kansas, also in the Territory 13 months. Isaac Prater remained in the Oklahoma Territory for most of the rest of his rather brief life. He saw service as a U.S. deputy marshal under three different U.S. marshals: Grimes, Nix, and Nagle.

The first record for Prater's service as a U.S. deputy marshal that has been located is in the Report of the Attorney-General to congress in 1892. A list of deputies who performed police duties at the opening of the "Iowa" and "Sac and Fox" agencies is given in this report. Isaac is listed here as L. S. Prater and he was due fees of $9 for his service during these land openings.

Prater may have been a deputy under Marshal William Grimes during most of his term as U. S. Marshal from 1891 to 1893. However, the only record located for his service for this period is in the voucher file in the Western History Collection of the University of Oklahoma. There are vouchers on file for the period of January 1 to June 30, 1893 for I. S. Prater. During this time the fees he earned totaled $1,455.03. Most of the arrests he made during this time were for cutting timber on government land and for selling liquor to Indians. He also served a number of subpoenas.

I. S. Prater was mentioned often in the newspapers during the time that E. D. Nix was the U. S. Marshal for Oklahoma Territory. His name is also often spelled Prather, and on occasion his initials are given as J. S., J. C., or I. C. (newspapers of that era were not noted for great accuary of detail.) The first mention located in the newspapers of this period was in April 1894 when Prater brought prisoners in to Guthrie from El Reno. He was a rather active laman and often worked along with deputies William Banks, Louis Eichoff, and Chris Madsen, all fo the El Reno area. In May 1984 Prater was probably involved in the capture of outlaws Nate Silva (also spelled Sulvia and a variety of other ways) and Felix Young who were thought to be implicated in the Pond Creek train robbey that had taken place the previous month. Newspaper accounts of this arrest are conflicting. Some papers give Chris Madsen, Prater, and deputy Eichoff the credit for capturing Young and Silva in El Reno. Other accounts state that a deputy W. A. Murphy, known as "the kid marshal" actually captured these two. In any event Madsen, Prater, and Eichoff took these two bad actors to jail in Guthrie.

It is unclear if Silva and Young actually had anything to do with the train robbery at Pond Creek. There was one report that Silva actually was on trial for the train robbery at Pond Creek while other papers only reported that he was being held for trial. Young was reportedly released after a preliminary hearing for want of evidence, but he was promptly jailed on some other U.S. warrant. In any event, in early June, 1894, Silva and Young escaped from the Pond Creek jail. The hunt was on for them for some time but they seemed to have escaped the law at that time. Nothing further has been found about Young, but Silva was back in the news in July 1899 after he had been captured in Logan County, Oklahoma. Sheriff E.C. Mudd of Bates County, Missouri came to Guthrie at that time to make arrangements to take Nate back to Missouri where he was wanted for burglary and larceny. Nate must have scaped again for on October 6, 1899 the Guthrie Leader reported, "E.C. Mudd, sheriff of Bates County, Missouri, who has been here looking for Nat Silva, left yesterday for home." Silva made the news in Oklahoma at least one more time. On March 15, 1901 the El Reno Globe said "Nate Silva has been captured after his eighteenth act in jail breaking. His last escape was from the Oklahoma City jail last November." No further information has been located about Silva after this date.

Prater and several other deputies were kept plenty busy in 1895. Early in the year Prater and Chris Madsen were is a posse that arrested Grant Pettyjohn, Alford Son, and Bailey Son for killing Fred Hoffman, the treasurer of what was then D County (later Blaine County) Oklahoma. Hoffman was murdered on January 22, 1895 and his body was found buried in a sand bank. This case was to drag on for some time in the courts. All the men but Alford Son were finally cleared of the charges and released. Alford Son was eventually tried three times for this murder. Son was represented by the legendary Temple Houston at his third trial in November 1897. This time Son was acquitted - the first trial had ended with a hung jury and he was found guilty at the second trial. There has never been any completely conclusive evidence that emerged as to who was actually guilty of Hoffman's murder. There are a number of tales that have surfaced that claim that Red Buck Waightman of the Doolin Gang actually killed Hoffman. One version of this story claims that Red Buck met Temple Houston and confessed to the crime before Houston took Son's case to trial the third time. The Oklahoma Times Journal of August 22, 1895 stated that Mrs. Hoffman identified a revolver that was stolen from Hoffman at the time of the murder. This gun was reportedly traced to Zip Wyatt, who had given it to a German farmer in Blaine County as a bribe to aid Zip to elude officers who were hot on his trail at the time. This story lends some credibility to the idea that Zip Wyatt was the man who murdered Hoffman.

Prater, Eichoff, Banks, and Madsen were all in the posse that went after the Rock Island train robbers in April 1895. The Doolin gang were given credit for this robbery. During the chase Tulsa Jack (William Blake) was shot and killed by Prater and Banks. Bill Doolin was also reportedly wounded during this gun fight. Prater was permitted to keep a fine gray horse that had belonged to Tulsa Jack, and in May 1896 Prater and Banks wer finally paid a reward of $1,000 for the killing of Tulsa Jack. The reward was not paid until after another of the Doolin gang, member Bill Raidler, was captured and convicted for the same train robbery.

In August 1895 Prater and Banks were again out in a posse after the notorious Zip Wyatt (aka Dick Yeager). Wyatt and partner Isaac (Ike) Black had been wanted by the law for some time for a variety of offenses, including robbery and murder. Like most outlaws, Zip was preported killed a number of times while he was still very much alive. In fact, when Tulsa Jack's body was taken to Hennessey for identification, he was first identified as Wyatt. H. R. Whirtzell, a man that Tulsa Jack had once worked for had made the correct identification when the body was placed on public view.

Several deputies had engaged in a gun battle with Wyatt and Black and possibly other outlaws in late May, 1895. After that, posses wer out scouring the countryside almost constantly after Zip and his band of outlaws. On August 3rd, word was received in Guthrie that Isaac Black had been killed near Cantonment. Wyatt was believed wounded but he got away. While deputies, including Prater and Banks, were still out after Wyatt, a posse of Garfield County officers consisting of jailer Poak, deputy sheriff Wood, and a Mr. Smith, located Zip in a cornfield and captured him. Zip had been severly wounded and in early September he died of his wounds while in the Enid, Oklahoma jail. Zip had a number of visitors during his last days at the Enid jail. The Enid Daily Wave reported constantly on his visitors and on Zip's failing condition. Zip on occasion expressed considerable contempt for various deputies. On August 24, 1895 the Wave reported: "....A smile always plays over his (Zip's) face when Madsen or Fossett is spoken of and at one time he said that if there had never been worse men on his track than Madsen and Fossett he would not have been captured...." Bill Fossett was another deputy who became the U.S. Marshal for Oklahoma Territory in 1902.

In 1896 Pat Nagle was appointed U.S. Marshal of Oklahoma Territory and the force of over 100 deputies was reduced to about 25 or 30 deputies. Nagle had to justify every appointment to the Justice Department because of allegations of irregularities by the previous marshal, E. D. Nix. Issac Prater appears to have been one of the deputies with a clean record under Nix and he was assigned as a temporary deputy for ten days right after Bill Doolin broke out of jail in Guthrie in July 1896. Nagle later appointed Prater as a field deputy. However, it appears that Nagle did not hold a very high opinion of nine of the men he appointed as field deputies. He stated in a July 25, 1896 letter to the Attorny General that these nine men could not be relied on to do court work. The nine men on this list included Prater, Banks, Heck Thomas, and Bill Tilghman. Their companion, Chris Madsen, was not retained as a deputy by Nagle after his first couple of months as the U. S. Marshal.

It appears that Prater continued to serve as a deputy under Nagle until October 1897, possibly longer. In Auust 1897 the El Reno Globe announced that Captain I. S. Prater had accepted a position at the U. S. jail at Guthrie. The job was said to be temporary as Captain Prater would go to the Klondyke gold fields early the next spring. It does not appear that Prater ever went to the Klondyke, though several other deputies and former deputies from Oklahoma did go to Alaska. In the fall of 1897 Deputy Prater took to boys to the reform school in Boonville, Missouri. He is mentioned once again in the Guthrie newspaper in January 1898, and he was still living in El Reno at the time. The Guthrie Leader of August 13, 1900 announced the death of the former deputy:

"PRATER DEAD. Well-known Marshal Under Nix Dies in Kentucky."

"El Reno, Oklah., Aug. 13. - Captain I. Prater, late deputy United States marshal and wagon master of the 7th United States colored volunteers during the war with Spain, died at Saylorsville, Kentucky yesterday morning. Deceased was a Knight Templar and also a member of the El Reno lodge I.O.O.F. He was a resident of El Reno for a number of years and left a few months ago for a visit to his old Kentucky home. A wife and child and hundreds of friends are left in El Reno morn his loss."

The author has seen a letter that was written to Chris Madsen by Prater's widow some years after Isaac's death. Prater's child was a son and his mother wanted him to meet Chris some day. She expressed a desire for Chris to tell her son about his father's service as a U. S. deputy marshal. It is not known if a meeting between Madsen and young Prater ever took place.

Issac Prater made a significant contribution to frontier law enforcement. When territorial peace officers such as Banks and Madsen rode the trail with Prater, they were in good company.


(No further information is available about Prater's service in the Spanish American War. The newspapers often referred to him as "Captain," however, deputy marshals were often referred to by honorary military titles. Prater is not listed in standard reference works as an officer during the Spanish American War. His war service was probably as a civilian employee working for a military quartermaster officer.)

Dee Cordry
Oklahombres.org webmaster
Posts: 158 | Location: Piedmont, OK | Registered: Wed November 12 2003Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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The following link will lead you to photo of Prather and Tulsa Jack. http://www.gunslinger.com/dooalbum.html
Posts: 512 | Location: Cortez, Colorado | Registered: Fri December 12 2003Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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